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6 Famous Folk Who Once Drove Taxis

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In some cities, driving a taxi is considered an important, valued, even elevated vocation. In London, for example, you need to study and train for about three years before you can get a license. Three fourths of those who begin the taxi training course, never make it to the end. Because of the seriousness with which they take the job, London cab drivers have even been the subjects of brain studies, which have discovered that the cabbies have a larger hippocampus compared with other people.

Unfortunately, here, on the other side of the pond, cabbies are usually looked down upon. But maybe this list of famous folk who spent time driving taxis will help change the image a little.

1. Larry David

larrydavid-thumb-257x278Who can't picture the misanthropic funny-man behind Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm driving a taxi? In truth, David's early career was peppered with a whole host of odd jobs, including limousine driver and--strapped into your parachutes?--bra salesman! Pretty appropriate career choice for the real life George Costanza, eh?

Now Hail This: When David worked as a cabbie, he was living across the hall from Kenny Kramer, who would later serve as the inspiration for Michael Richards' character on Seinfeld.

2. David Mamet

davidmamet460The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright credits his brief period as a Chicago cab driver as on-the-job training for his later career as a writer. Mamet often decried the notion that real writers were trained in the halls of Ivy League institutions and looked to "knockaround guys" like Jack London, Nelson Algren and Ernest Hemingway as his inspiration.

Now Hail This: When it comes to writing, Mamet values life experience over technique and will often compare his favorite writers to cab drivers.

3. Danny Glover

danny-gloverIn 1999, the actor best known for playing an over-the-hill cop in the Lethal Weapon movies, used his leverage as a former San Francisco cab driver to raise awareness about African Americans being passed over for white passengers. In response, Rudolph Giuliani launched Operation Refusal, which suspended the licenses of cab drivers who favored white passengers over black ones.

Now Hail This: Glover's much publicized outrage has spawned countless Internet parodies, aptly titled "The Danny Glove Cab Test." Watch it here.

4. Jimmy Smits

manifesto-jimmy-smits-yl-deHe may have his Masters in Dramatic Arts from Cornell, but for a brief period in the early "˜80s, Jimmy Smits played chauffeur to dozens of rowdy New Yorkers. The cabbie gig lasted only a few months, until he received the pilot script for a new show producer Steven Bochco was developing called LA Law. After failing to impress NBC Executives, Smits booked a $99 flight to the West Coast to audition for Bochco in person.

Now Hail This: As a struggling New York theater actor, Smits acted in off-Broadway plays during the day while driving a cab at night.

5. Paul Stanley

0_61_stanley_paulThe early days of Kiss were not very glamorous for Paul Stanley. His parents were convinced his obsession with rock music was just a fad, and threatened to cut off their schnorer son. What's a guitar wielding frontman of a dingy rock-n-roll band to do? Take a part time job as a cab driver, of course.

Now Hail This: One of the most frequent stops on Stanley's route was Madison Square Garden, where he would drive customers to see everything from Knicks games to Elvis concerts.

6. Philip Glass

070219_glassBefore he penned film scores for The Truman Show and Notes on a Scandal, Philip Glass was just another Julliard-trained composer struggling to make a living in New York City. It was behind the wheel of a cab that Glass worked on Einstein on the Beach, his most recognized opera. Glass loved the independence of being a cab driver, and he kept the job until he was able to earn a living from his music. Of course, financially, he is now the most successful living "˜classical' composer in the world.

Now Hail This: While still a relatively unknown composer, a female customer entered Glass's cab and recognized his music blaring form the stereo. Glass later surprised the woman by revealing his identity.

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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